Recent conversation with friend:
Me: I've been really worried about Danny
Friend: I know what you mean. I worry about my kids and
their friends, too.
Me: But here's the thing: Danny doesn't actually have
Friend: Sure he does! What about the kids at
Me: Uh, no, they're not really his friends. He never talks about
them and they aren't especially nice to him. I worry that the kids are making
fun of him. I heard one kid say.....
Friend: (interrupting) Yeah. All
moms worry about that, right? I mean, just the other day, someone teased my
daughter about a boy who likes her.
Me: Hmmmm... yeah, but that's not
really the same as being called a "retard" by classmates, is it?
Well, I know what you mean. No one likes to hear their kid being
Me: (hitting head against wall) Yeah, well, I have to run. Thanks
for talking (sarcastically).
All mothers worry about their children's
futures. We worry about drugs and school and bullying. We worry about their
health and self-esteem, their future careers and romantic lives.
have a kid with autism or any other special need, however, the worrying takes on
epic proportions, mostly because these fears are so much more likely to come
true than with NT kids. I don't care what a mom of neurotypical kids says; it is
NOT the same thing.
My son has high functioning autism, and I worry about
his future to the point of obsession. Now, of course I worry about my younger
daughter and son. I want them to be happy and successful adults, too, but with
Danny, I'm really scared. Scared that he might turn to drugs to deal with his
social struggles or in order to fit in. Scared he may someday battle depression
because he is so different and -everything--everything!-- seems to be a bigger
struggle for him.
I'm terrified of the day when he realizes people look
at him strangely. I worry he won't be able to hold a job or have a romantic
relationship (if he wants one). Hell, I'm scared he won't ever have a truly good
I worry that someday all his struggles with sensory stimuli,
learning and just daily living will prove to be too much for him, that he'll
just want to give up on it all, because life is just so damn hard for
And I worry that someday my daughter will realize that her brother
is different and she won't want him around. That she'll be embarrassed of him
and his differences.
This worry I have for my son who has autism is
fundamentally different than the worry I harbor for my younger kids. OF COURSE,
I don't want any of them to be bullied, but in Danny's case, it's much more
likely to happen. In fact, I've already witnessed episodes. Kids are cruel. We
all know that, and many kids are the victims of bullying and teasing. I know I
was. But, the thing about kids (and really, many adults) is that they are
uncomfortable with people who are different. Kids who are different are very
likely to get made fun of; it's the law of the playground.
I want my
other kids to go to college and get jobs, and sure, I know they could end up on
welfare as easily as the next kid. But Danny? Danny who struggles with
processing directions, who gets stressed so easily, who offends people sometimes
by his bluntness? Yeah, SO much more likely to have problems in the workforce or
even in interviews. And he is such a homebody, it isn't such a stretch to
imagine him living in my basement, playing video games into his 40s.
parents we will always worry about our kids, but to say that the "normal" worry
is the same as this is so insulting. It's like me telling a friend whose kid has
some disease that we all worry about our kids' health, it's no big
I know I have to get a grip on these worries, and mostly I have. I
work really hard to get Danny the help he needs to learn social skills, to
succeed in school, to manage his stress. And I try not to think about the future
too much, because when I do, it all seems so incredibly overwhelming and
And the last thing I need--any of us needs--is someone
invalidating or minimizing those fears. Because as much as you try to gloss over
them or make them seem less significant, they are still there. And they always